Detroit – The Shadow of Decline

Detroit – once America’s shining example of a city built on the principles of a prosperous middle class, considered the Paris of the Midwest and submitted as America’s choice in 1963 for the upcoming summer olympics – today is America’s capital for unemployment, dropouts, and foreclosures – ranked #1 Most Miserable City by Forbes in 2013. In 1967 Detroit experienced its worst race riot in history, with the National Guard deploying tanks to stop the violence that had resulted in 43 deaths and over 2,000 buildings being burned – ultimately sparking Detroit’s white exodus to the suburbs. While many of Detroit’s underlying economic issues began surfacing in the 1950s and are inextricably linked to the automotive industry, the transition from being an 83% white to now an 83% black city has thrown a spotlight onto issues of race, crime, and poverty like no other American city.

(Special guest Jayoh de la Rey @ObjectToaster)

The Myth of the 20th Century – Ep12 – Detroit – The Shadow of Decline

— Timeline —

-1910- Henry Ford builds the first Model T factory in Highland Park
-1920s- Detroit attracts hundreds of thousands from the rural south to work in new automotive factories
-1930s- The Great Depression hits Detroit particularly hard, with over 50% unemployment
-1939-45- US participation in WWII creates the “Arsenal of Democracy”, creating huge wartime contracts, reviving industry in Detroit
-1950s- post war prosperity leads to an unprecedented baby boom and demand for consumer goods, Detroit’s population peaks at 1.9 million
-1956- Interstate Highway System commissioned by President Eisenhower, increasing demand further for cars
-1958- Packard Motor Company declares bankruptcy
-1967- 43 die, 7,000 arrested, 2,000 buildings burn in Detroit’s worst race riot; National Guard troops brought in
-1969- another round of race riots prompts mass white flight from Detroit and exodus to the suburbs
-1972- Michigan Republican primary delivered to Governor George Wallace, segregationist from Alabama
-1973-1979- Arab oil embargoes send oil prices skyrocketing, hurting demand for large American vehicles and helping more fuel-efficient foreign imports from Japan and Europe
-1974- Coleman Young elected first African-American mayor of Detroit
-1980s- crack epidemic sweeps Detroit
-1990s- SUV boom keeps Detroit automakers afloat
-1999- Detroit legalizes casino gaming
-2007- Toyota surpasses General Motors as the world’s largest auto maker for the first time
-2008- gasoline prices rise above $4 per gallon for the first time in the United States, crippling Detroit automakers due to their lack of competitive small cars
-2008- former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick sentenced to 120 days in jail for felony assault
-2009- after receiving billions in US government bailout money, GM declares bankruptcy and Chrysler merges with Italian automaker F.I.A.T.
-2013- Detroit declares bankruptcy
-2013- Forbes ranks Detroit #1 Most Miserable City, with a population of under 700,000
-2013- a newly hired autoworker will earn $14/hour; adjusted for inflation, this is 3 cents less than what Henry Ford was paying in 1914
-2014- Mike Duggan, Detroit’s first white mayor in an 83% black city since 1974, assumes office

— References —

– Detroit: City on the Move (1965) –
– Auto bailout, round 2: Big 3 – GM, Ford, Chrysler – keep begging for $34B government bailout, Sisk (2008) –
– The 15 Top-Producing American Car Plants, Holmes (2012) –
Detroit – An American Autotopsy, Leduff (2013)
– During the ‘Lost Decade,’ Michigan Shed More Jobs Than U.S. as a Whole, Gantert (2014) –
– Detroit – Real Time Ride Along (2015) –
– Ted Nugent the morning after the election (2016) –
– Devil’s Night, Wikipedia –’s_Night

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